Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has started airing ads attacking Democrats who recently voted to continue foreign aid to Egypt, Libya and Pakistan, but one of his GOP Senate colleagues has risen to their defense.
On Tuesday, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham joined West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on a conference call defending Machin’s foreign aid vote, the Charleston Gazette reported.
“A lot of debate goes on about foreign aid,” Graham said. “Foreign relations are not a Democrat or Republican issue, but a American issue.”
“Joe Manchin works with Barack Obama to send billions of our taxpayer dollars to countries where radicals storm our embassies, burn our flag and kill our diplomats,” Paul’s ad states.
Another version of the ad is running against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida. Paul’s political action committee announced Wednesday that the 60-second spot will start airing against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio.
“In recent months, the Pakistani government has imprisoned and tortured Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped us get Osama bin Laden. Egypt and Libya have failed to protect our embassies, while militants stormed them, burning our flag and killing Americans,” Paul said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Senator Sherrod Brown has stood with President Obama and against the American taxpayer to continue sending foreign aid to these very countries. I recently offered an amendment to strip their aid, an amendment that was strongly opposed by Senator Brown.”
All three targeted Democrats have strong, but not quite insurmountable, leads in the polls. They represent presidential battleground states where President Barack Obama could potentially be hurt by the foreign aid issue.
“I very much would like to have a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Senate,” Graham said, according to the Charleston Gazette. “But when it comes to foreign policy and the matters of war, I think we need to be bipartisan.”
Manchin described Paul’s bill as “well-intentioned but severely flawed.” He said its passage would have “jeopardized our greatest Middle Eastern ally, Israel.”
Graham also argued that curtailing aid to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government — which he called a “work in progress” — would endanger Israel by destroying the Camp David accords.
“If I thought we could withdraw from the Middle East and we would be safe, I would do it,” Graham said. “But we don’t have easy choices available to us.”
He continued, “Al-Qaida, the Taliban and radical Islamists would like nothing more than to have America withdraw from the region.”
Paul and Graham have clashed frequently on foreign policy and civil liberties.
Graham was a leading defender of the National Defense Authorization Act, while Paul argued it contained a provision that could lead to the indefinite detention of American citizens without charges.
The two senators also differ on Pentagon spending. A supporter of Paul’s father, Texas GOP Rep. Ron Paul, won the Democratic nomination to challenge Graham in 2008.
Graham, like Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, has complained about “isolationism” in the party. Fellow South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint has voted with Paul on foreign aid.
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